Cheese and Wine and Secret Santa as the Right to Protest is Criminalised

Al Capone was famously jailed not for blowing up bars, illicit liquor, murder or extortion, but for tax evasion. In the same way there’s something sort of odd about Boris Johnson feeling the heat about his Downing Street Christmas parties after presiding over the past five years farce. Imagine if he gets the boot not for the fall of Kabul but for a cheese and wine do? But there’s something about this lie as opposed to all the others which is really pissing people off. It could be the fact that this was at a time when we were all in serious lockdown; it could be the stunning arrogance; it could be the police inaction and the feeling of this regime being completely immune to scrutiny; but I think it was mostly the clearly coordinated and brazen media rounds of Tory ministers that did it for lots of people. Tories with lies spewing out their mouths uttering the same exact script to camera.

Now the ITV revelations from Paul Brand with the giggling Allegra Stratton is the smoking gun for their lies about the party and this government descends to new levels of contempt for the public. From Dominic Cummings to this very day, throughout the entire pandemic the government, the ruling elite have treated us with complete disdain. But the problem with their lying is not just a problem about their ‘moral compass’ or about standards in public office, the problem is that it undermines their authority or any residual trust. In a world of extreme precarity with uncertainty and truth itself a highly elusive concept, in a national health emergency if you can’t believe anything the government says, it matters. The next time an official says ‘there’s this new variant and everyone’s going to have to do X’ people might easily throw up their hands and say ‘I don’t believe you.’

There’s something profoundly unsettling about being lied to by people in power. It’s not that we’re not used to it. But now you can’t believe anything they say. When your in the middle of a global pandemic and the effects of Brexit are just emerging, from shite in the rivers to empty shelves and supply-chain collapse you look to see who’s in charge and it’s the people that brought you this shambles now just lying and lying and lying to your face.

This feels like the most shambolic and corrupt Tory government I’ve ever lived under, and that’s quite a competitive group. I’m (sadly) old enough to remember Thatcher and Tebbit & Co, and although they were in a sense more deliberately vicious they were also deeply ideological. They had a mission, a purpose and an ideology they believed in. Don’t misunderstand me – it was a disastrous and appalling ideology – but it was a set of ideas. What characterises Johnson’s government is that they are completely un-moored, opportunistic and at sea. They will do anything. Their only operating manual is power and self-aggrandisement, lining their own pockets or their friends. That all of this is done in plain sight with complete impunity is humiliating.

The Christmas party story is a dramatic one and ‘cuts through’ into the general public more than anything before, but in reality the revelations about Dominic Raab’s handling of Kabul (Raphael Marshall’s damning whistle-blowing about the disastrous mishandling of the evacuation are astonishing); the government’s last-minute amendments to the policing bill which criminalise major aspects of peaceful protest, allows for suspicionless search and to literally ban individuals from protesting; No 10s plans to let ministers strike out legal rulings they disagree with ‘to let ministers strike out legal rulings they disagree with’ are issues of far more seriousness. I do want the Christmas party and the Secret Santa to have as much political damage as possible, but I don’t want it to overshadow the other historically dangerous and unprecedented laws they are passing.


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Comments (14)

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  1. Tom Ultuous says:

    This Xmas party is nothing when compared to the fact they refused to join the EU PPE bulk buy scheme and allowed people to die due to PPE shortages so they could hand out contracts to their chums in exchange for Bitcoin pushbacks. It’s all down to press coverage. Why is this more of a story than murder? I suppose it’s dumbing down for the dumb.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      Didn’t the press cover the news of the PPE scandal when it broke too? I seem to remember the coverage spread like a rash through the plurality of media channels. And folk were just as righteously exercised by the schlock of it.

      We do like a good scandal. It keeps us entertained. Bread and circuses, eh?

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        It was covered Colin but it didn’t last long.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Indeed! ‘Novelty’ is the name of the game, the insatiable pursuit of fresh schlock. Who wants to watch endless replays of stories that have had the *rs* kicked out of them?

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            I don’t think it ever had “the *rs* kicked out of it” Colin.

          2. Mons Meg says:

            I beg to differ. Like every other turkey (‘a person who has done something ill-advised or stupid’), the story was picked over ad nauseum by the commentariat for a few days in the media, then discarded when fresh meat came along.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Presumably there are laws against this for the private sector, and civil if not criminal penalties like disqualification for unfit conduct:
    Perhaps many Conservative voters are perfectly happy with murderous malfeasance, but are enraged when their loyalty is made to look stoopid.

  3. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I wonder why this footage has not appeared on the inpartial national news? Can you imagine the coverage if it had been in Bute House?

    1. Mons Meg says:

      Wasn’t it on the BBC news last night? And wasn’t the video ‘obtained’ and the story broken by ITN? Was Michael Ahint the Counter telling me porkies this morning, when I traik’t down to the garage for my rolls?

  4. Axel P Kulit says:

    They have always treated the public with disdain but hid it better.

    In your list of government actions at the end of your piece you omitted the plans to be able to strip anyone of British Citizenship on a government whim – the language is so vague it could apply to anyone. This can be weaponised against say Independence supporters thus depriving them of the vote. I also see it being used agains naturalised British citizens.

    I wrote about it here:

  5. Cathie Lloyd says:

    Agreed 100% – there needs to be an effective opposition. What is happening at the grassroots, in trades councils and such like in England? We know that apparently insignificant events can do the straw that broke the camels back. That’s one of the intriguing things about politics, where is the breaking point. Soon we must hope from here.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      The ‘breaking point’ will be at the next general election, when such ‘outrages’ might lose the ruling party enough seats to let the opposition party assume power. Between elections, they don’t really carry much moment. Gives us something to shout about, is all…

    2. Dougie Blackwood says:

      I’m content that Boris and his cronies continue to show himselfs as lying clowns. The longer this continues the more people will see that one lying Tory is much like another and that our best option is to get out and set our own standards. Assuredly our standards will be set such that we avoid the cess pit that is Westminster.

      1. Mons Meg says:

        Aye, but we’re been saying this for over a century, Dougie, and people never do.

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